Steve Jobs is not the savior of old media and the free press

Steve Jesus

Enough is enough, people.

I love stuff Steve Jobs makes. His Pixar movies are (were?) brilliant. The Mac is magical. The iTunes Store and iPod are the most innovative creation of a controlled media channel and eco-system since the invention of the TV. And the iPhone — couldn’t live without mine. Heck, I even use my Apple TV.

But savior of old media? Savior of the free and professional press?

Like flies being charmed by a spider, Steve Jobs has old media executives hypnotized with the promise of what he will reveal on iWednesday. The archtypical quote from the swarm of flies is in Tuesday’s New York Times:

“Steve believes in old media companies and wants them to do well, said a person who has seen the device and is familiar with Apple’s marketing plan for it, but who did not want to be named because talking about it might alienate him from the company. “He believes democracy is hinged on a free press and that depends on there being a professional press.”

So let’s get this straight: Steve Jobs believes in a free and professional press (I’m assuming by “professional,” the fly means “not bloggers”), but this “person familiar with Apple’s marketing plan” is so afraid of being alienated by Steve Jobs’s PR squad that he is afraid to talk openly to the press?

Listen: The kind of free press Steve likes is the “free” press that is showered on every thing the company does. Where was Steve’s championship in the “free press” when Apple’s lawyers were unleashed on bloggers who pierced his wall of secrecy around Apple?

Apple believes in a “handled press,” not free press.

Here’s the deal, old media companies: The iSlate is not going to be a “print reader,” so it is impossible that it will save print. It’s going to be a digital content “consuming” device that will allow individuals to, yes, read anything on the web AND listen to any song ever recorded, watch any movie ever filmed, access any photo ever taken and placed online. So, maybe when they get through with all of that content, they’ll get around to paying for downloaded replicas of printed media.

Here’s another deal, old media companies: Steve Jobs did not create the iWhatever because of his love of the free and professional press. He created it because everything lined up to make now the time to create a product that has been envisioned for 30 years.

Here’s yet one more deal, old media companies: You know those companies that used to purchase advertising in the context of your content? They now can create, commission and aggregate content of their own. (They can hire me to help.) And on the iSlate, their content is likely going to be as compelling as your’s in many cases.

So, yes, be glad there’s going to be another channel and platform in which you can continue to battle it out with all of the content competitors you now have online.

But if you think Steve Jobs gives a rip about saving old media because he believes in a “professional press,” remember the children’s poem by Mary Howitt:

Said the cunning Spider to the Fly, “Dear friend what can I do,
To prove the warm affection I’ve always felt for you?
I have within my pantry, good store of all that’s nice;
I’m sure you’re very welcome — will you please to take a slice?”
“Oh no, no,” said the little Fly, “kind Sir, that cannot be,
I’ve heard what’s in your pantry, and I do not wish to see!”